Yes, while the powerhouse continents like South America and Europe make do with a quadrennial continental championship (confident that their domestic leagues will keep fans entertained during the odd numbered years); African football thrives on having competitions every single chance it gets.
So sure the World Cup qualifying campaign matters--but it usually gets started right after qualifying ends for the African Cup of Nations. Then goes in hiatus so they can actually play the ACN, then returns before going on break again so they can play another one a year or so later. That means you get two ACN champions in between the quadrennial dream of an African team hoisting the World Cup. That means you keep the fans from Marakesh to Capetown happy. That means you keep hope (and interest) alive in local stadia across the continent.
But since we're focused on the World Cup, we'll highlight the progress of affairs in that tournament (rather than the other ones)
While Mauritania was the first team eliminated (by virtue of their decision not to compete in the first place), the remaining teams were ranked and then divided with the lowest 24 teams being put into home-and-away series to qualify for the next round.
Round 1 Winners (and Losers) were:
Liberia (d. Mauritius--well, they withdrew, but still)
Congo (d. Sao Tome e Principe)
Namibia (d. Djibouti)
Mozambique (d. Comoros)
Rwanda (d. Eritrea)
Congo DR (d. Swaziland)
Equitorial Guinea (d. Madagascar)
Tanzania (d. Chad)
Togo (d. Guinea Bissau)
Kenya (d. Seychelles)
Lesotho (d. Burundi)
Ethiopia (d. Somalia)
Round 2 was a long and lazy affair, sprawling out from June 2012 until September of 2013 including a 9 month break between the second and third matches. But while the matches took a while every point counted as only the strongest survived the ten groups and advance to Round 3.
Round 2 Groups winners and losers were:
Group A Group B Group C Group D Group E
Equitorial Guinea Tanzania Lesotho Congo
Group F Group G Group H Group I Group J
Nigeria Egypt Algeria Cameroon Senegal
All in all it wasn't that surprising, 9 of the top 10 teams made the next round, with only Ethiopia playign spoiler. Round 3, a surprisingly do or die affair. Yes, in Round 3 teams will be set loose in a desolate post-apocalyptic world where they must kill or be killed as the residents of Panem watch...wait...that's the plot of the Hunger Games. Still, Round 3 is a head-to-head affair (far more brutal than FIFA's usual round robin model)--win your home-and-home series and you're heading to Rio, lose and, hey, you've still got an African Cup of Nations to play in.
Ethiopia v. Nigeria Tunisia v. Cameroon Burkina Faso V. Algeria
Round 3 winners and losers were:
Ivory Coast v.
It's a little disappointing that the old favorites are back in it again, depriving the tournament of fresh blood from Ethiopia and Burkina Faso. But the good news is that the veteran experience may make the African teams more difficult to oust. If you'd like to learn more about Africa's qualifiers, check out our Meet the Teams section.